What was the time frame from plan to front for German AFV's? Let me reply, it was 6 to 9 months depending the AFV's at hand.
So basically, a Tank whose armor's fails in February 1944, has been manufactured out of a process schedule statrted either in August 1943 or May 1943 (Tigers).
However as I said, the German war production suffered in many more ways than one.
Atomization, Slow transfer (from January 1943 about 27% of the railcars did not reach their destiniation. This became 42% in the first half of 1944), Re-serialization (a process which saw the Germans try to push in service parts that were defective after "re-serialization") etc.
Other issues also regard the perception.
The Germans produced very little heavy tanks in the great scheme of things. With the Panther (which was as heavy as the IS-series) Germany didn't scratch the 8K. This from Augst 1942.
The rest of the tanks, were already known quantity and not on the right side. The Pz3 and 4 even upgraded were rather ill-equipped AND of passable quality when it came to resilience.
This is why I said, that in 44 the German tanks weren't worse in absolute, actually they were better protected (on a raw data basis) than in 1942. But the tanks were visibly worse in their tactical employment, which rendered the other issues obvious.
In short, when the Germans were "winning", losses of tanks and AFV's weren't that important, because the victory was at hand. This is how a tank like the Pz3 made it as the main force in the Soviet union. The moment you're getting the raw end of the deal everything comes forward. The fact that the German Tanks didn't really pose an issue until the Tiger surfaced and that the Germans in more than one occasion were forced to use AAA to get rid of tanks they were ill-equipped to do.
So the famous "Deutsche Qualität" armor, isn't really a problem of quality or lack there-off. It's a problem of perception. German armor was always going to be insufficient, of variable quality and generally compromised in design.
This was reinforced as the War went to the Soviet Union, which caused within 3 first months more losses to German armored forces that they had incurred in all the previous campaigns priot to that.
This new dimension that befalls on the Germans, is a particularly severe issue.
The production rate of German AFV's is largely insufficient. While a quantity of Beute Panzers is available, the ammo complement that goes with them is at best a two months worth of combat.
The replacement rate is not only an issue for expanding the troops needed for the full conquest of the Soviet Union, it's an issue for the lack of mobilization of the German Economy. Basically Suddenly, your best shot at invading the USSR has failed, and you need to at least double it, while having lost temporarily or definitively 2000+ units out of a 3000+ force. As far as the plan goes, the German have lost their armored brunt and they've lost it mostly to AT guns and lack of availability.
These losses create the perfect storm on German steel industries. Enter Britain's decision to bomb cities and industries in Germany.
So at this point, we have a thorough picture on why German armor/steel quality wasn't substantially better. Because to become substantially worse, the armor quality had to be substantially better. But the production facilities for instance from 1940 to 1941 and 1942 were exactly the same. Exactly the same. What the Germans expanded, and often at great expense, was their repair capabilities.
The Germans had not enough means to expand their tank production right away. Because, they failed at Barbarossa, which meant a total change of operationnal plans.
While most operations til there were 2 month plans, Barbarossa lasted 4 and its compounding 2 more. This is to be coupled with this little nugget. In the Eastern front in 1941 the daily consumption of supplies by a panzer division was 30,4 tons when it was inactive; but in case of heavy combat the consumption of supplies increased to the staggering level of 711,2 tons.
So explain to me, how the German economy, which survives mostly through plunder, who is 58% more expensive than the average (this while taking into account the US, which is the great equalizer between all great powers). Compared to the USSR, the Germans were 112% more expensive in average (without Lend Lease).
You can't keep up without either a cheat sheet or simply an average quality that is passable.
All these are things, academics know. Logisticians and planners know since at least 1977. Germany was producing AFV's it couldn't afford, AFV's it could afford and both were of average quality.
Now the quality issue wasn't a German only thing. Off course, we're talking million wide fronts here. The procurement is going to be problematic, the issue though is where it stands at acceptancy.
The German AFV's were all fruits of compromise. This didn't stopped at things like sub-systems and doctrinal design. They went as far as armor quality and general durability.
The Pz4 which was for long time the heaviest tank available to the Germans, was thoroughly insufficient. Every detail about that tank in 1941 was an insult to German tankers. However, this didn't stopped the tank from being efficient.
This is the problem people don't get. It's not because the tank's usable and effective, that it doesn't have flaws. And because the damn tanks were insufficiently armored and the armor wasn't Adamantium, the Germans could both slip the losses under the rug and laugh them over while they marched all over Europe.
So in order for you to understand. From Barbarossa onwards, the German Economy is on coma from the level of production required to maintain the rythm of losses on the East.
This influences directly both quality of armor and productivity.
The fact we're discussing AGAIN stuff PIECEMEAL which makes no sense really puts me on the edge.
The bottom line is this.
Any decline in quality in German armor cannot be sudden because how the German industry worked then. This means that you would need a production frame of at least 6 to 9 months. Which would also mean trials way before, because planning, logistics.
And there we are again. If you want an early 1944 "armor decline", you have to assume the transformation at least by August 1942 and a run from Augustus 1943.
The poster provide a fairly convincing argument to support his theory. I don't agree with everything he said, but I do respect his opinion. Clearly, he has done some research into the matter.